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The dopamine system and addiction 

The dopamine system and addiction
The dopamine system and addiction

David J. Nutt

and Liam J. Nestor

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date: 13 June 2021

Substances of addiction work by triggering transient, exaggerated increases in dopamine in brain areas that process rewards. These surges in dopamine resemble, and can greatly surpass, physiological increases triggered by natural rewards (e.g. food). Research also suggests that dopamine functioning in the brain may predispose some individuals to initiating substance abuse—particularly the use of stimulants, which induce further deficits within the dopamine system. The development of substance addiction is associated with dysregulated dopaminergic transmission, which results in a hyposensitivity to non-drug rewards and, importantly, impairments in cognition that are involved in controlling impulsivity and drug urges.

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